(disclaimer: this blog relates my personal experience and should not be used as medical advice)
Upon arriving in our new nature paradise, we were faced with a mold bad luck.
The house we moved into from the city was a definite upgrade: only 5 years old, modern and pristine and made with high-quality materials. We felt like we were buying piece of mind...
Until a few months after, we decided to improve the water pipping of our heating system. The specialist doing the work then realized that one junction had the tiniest leak in my husband's office (adjacent to our master bedroom and above my daughter's room). We fixed the leak and called it a day.
Fast forward a couple months and we're all starting to exhibit weird symptoms, each in our own way (making this puzzle even harder to piece together)...
Here's an overview of the main things we're experiencing (the list was much longer...ugh):
Add to the mix the fact that we were all short on patience and more on the anxious side given our general discomfort...image the family dynamics. Yikes!
I've always been about health optimization, it's at the core of how I take care of my family. You can imagine how puzzled I was when the above started unfolding.
I knew something was up with our environment, why else would we suddenly all be falling to pieces?
And then the light bulb went on. I remembered that tiny and innocent-looking water leak from a couple months back. I knew this was the root of our issues.
We decided to check and open a tiny piece of wall to make sure it was dry. It was the beginning of our nightmare.
Finding the root cause of mold.
The more we were opening, the more wet it was. Water from this tiny leak had been quietly and incestuously dropping for years, wrecking havoc on the exterior structure of the wall and beneath the floor.
Having nowhere to go, water started pooling under the flooring, trapped between the subfloor and the spray foam insulation. How long had it been there? Based on the damage, probably shortly after the house was built.
When founding mold, it's best to immediately call a restoration company to deal with it as it the spores start spreading everywhere and can make you even more sick.
That's what we did and luckily they came on the same day, removed all they could see, sprayed to spot proliferation and created a negative pressure environment to dry and filter the space and push it outside. It stayed like that for a few weeks.
Right after this intervention, our symptoms started being less acute; still present but not as debilitating. We knew mold was indeed the cause of our symptoms.
Now what? Time to detox.
The issue with mold or toxin exposure is that it gets stuck in your system. Your body can naturally get some of it out through normal liver detoxification processes but the truth is that for most people, symptoms will remain until you intervene to support your body's detoxification.
Thankfully, we found a naturopath - Dr. Emina in Kelowna - with lots of mold experience (important!). She helped us tremendously in this overwhelming stage. I didn't feel my best and was feeling pretty discouraged so my best advice is to not try to solve it all on your own. It's too much!
We started by testing ourselves to see what was up. I did a full hormone panel, Sofia did a food intolerance/allergy test and Phil got a urine mold and toxin test (this is an expensive test so we started with him as he was the most exposed as he was working in that office + sleeping in our master bedroom connected to it).
The results that came back were mind blowing:
- ALL hormones had left my body. I only had a bit of progesterone left. That explained the weight gain!
- Sofia's results came back with 26 food intolerances (what???? that explained her daily tummy aches, poor thing!)
- Phil's mold results came back 10x higher than the upper limit. Wholy!!!!
That's when we realized how serious this tiny leak was and how it had completely wrecked our family.
Our naturopath warned us: the journey will be long. Because of how bad these results were, it would take 6-12 months to rid our bodies of these toxins, maybe more.
To be honest, I couldn't help but think of the number of people probably affected by mold. If only 7-months of exposure had created such damage on us, what about people that have a lifelong exposure?
In fact, it's estimated that over 45M buildings in the US have unhealth amounts of mold, that includes where you work, our kid's schools, etc (source: Moldy, 2017). If you want to understand just how bad mold is, read these stats.
Mold and toxins symptoms are sneaky. At first you think that must be aging, then maybe you're feeling so tired because you're stressed. It's nothing debilitating but it builds up over time, to a point where all those tiny aches add up to not feeling like yourself anymore.
Perhaps you've been to all doctors and they can't figure out what is going on with you? If that's you, change provider, do some testing and consider the below!
By the way, most people will think you're crazy because mold illnesses are not talked about. It's absolutely crazy.
First thing to do: cleaning your air + ditching all moldy items.
When finding mold in your house, trust me, you're going to start freaking out about where it could be and whether you're still breathing it or not.
First things first: clean the air you breathe.
We then purchased an air purification unit for all the bedrooms given that it's where our bodies need pure air the most to support our restoration at night.
That was a game changer. Air purifiers seem expensive at first but trust me, the cost of mold on your health (and finances) is ridiculous. Investing in a good system and committing to regularly changing the filters is nothing and something we should all be doing.
You then need to toss anything that was exposed to mold (that was is hard!). We also hired a professional cleaning service that cleaned our rugs, mattress, etc. We had all our sheets, towels professionally dry cleaned (mention mold exposure). What a drag!
Second, get the toxins out via sweat.
At that point, my husband and I are overwhelmed by the proportions this is taking. The financial cost of restoring, rebuilding then detoxing are staggering.
Feeling as if were were in the eye of the hurricane, we asked the naturopath one thing: what's the quickest way to get this mold out of all of us?
The answer? Infrared Sauna, ideally 5-6x/week. This therapy is backed by lots of science and works.
Desperate to feel better and looking for a child-friendly way to detox our children, we researched and ended up buying our own sauna for convenience purposes. Then we'd be able to go as often as we want and when we want.
You can read more on the benefits of infrared sauna and how to properly do it on my blog here.
Chronic Inflammation & Detox Treatment
Mold often opens up a cascade of inflammation in the body. For my daughter it created a leaky gut which triggered food intolerances + allergies paired with candida overgrowth which created body itching and rashes (note that candida overgrowth is almost always present with mold).
For me it completed dysregulated my hormones, made me anemic, tired, and low energy overall. Inflammation gets exhibited differently for everyone.
A comprehensive treatment is necessary and must be personalized. To make things even harder, not all mold toxins can be binded the same way to get out of your system. That means, one size doesn't fit all. Yikes.
I'm therefore not going to list my detoxification protocol because it wouldn't be accurate for you. That said, these things are normally necessary:
- introducing charcoal right away
- Vitamin D + K2
- B complex
- Liver support supplement
Mold treatments also need to be done in stages and target multiple things at once. For example, mold is surrounded by a slimy substance called biofilm that keeps it instance. This means that the biofilm must be busted first, exposing the mold so it can be killed. During the kill-off part of the treatment, your symptoms can be heightened and be much worst. Keep faith, it will get better!
Other good things to do.
Eat a nutritious diet and reduce sugar consumption (it will aggravate candida if you have it). Avoiding alcohol during your detoxification is necessary as it often contains mold, toxins and sugar which will make you feel worst. Limit leftovers as they can become moldy quickly. If you drink coffee, be sure to only consume mold-free coffee. You can read my recap on that here.
To support your liver as it works hard at detoxifying your body, you need to ensure toxins are getting out via your stools daily. Support with lots of fibers, herbs, tea or anything that helps you keep things moving.
Also, playing outside and connecting with nature as much as possible is important. Doing light exercise like walking most days is a good idea (don't kill yourself with HIIT, your body will have a hard time recovering).
Science is also showing that EMF exposure can activate some mycotoxins and increase inflammation. It's a good practice to shut down your wifi router at night to be on the same side.
Finally, it's important to be drinking lots of CLEAN water. We have a reverse osmosis system to filter all water in the house, plus we filter it with Santevia's filter to remove fluoride, lead, chlorine, glyphosate and more.
The bright side is coming.
It took us 6 weeks of treatment, daily sweat and nature to start feeling like ourselves again. It's been 11 months since we found the leak. We're feeling a lot better but not fully healed yet. My husband will get his mold re-test in a month, we're both nervous to see the changes. Fingers crossed, there's a significant improvement!
For my daughter we've started slowly re-introducing some foods as her gut is healing.
The body wants to naturally heal itself but it needs a big boost at first!
I also believe that given the amount of toxins we are exposed to daily via food, air and chemicals in all the products surrounding us, it's a good idea to keep a detoxification practice for maintenance.
Test your home.
If you're wondering whether you have mold in your house, it's a good idea to do start by testing each room.
I wanted to see if we had more mold in the house and make sure that we weren't still exposed. We used the petri dishes by ImmunoLytics. You leave them open in your room than send it back for results. Brace yourself for the report: it's always intense.
Remember that some mold is normal but the report will show you unreasonable levels.
Here is my advice: if you're testing, be ready to act on it. There's a good chance you'll find stuff so be ready to open that can of worms!
I feel like I've become - against my will - a mold expert. I hope the above snapshot of our experience was helpful.
If you're not feeling like yourself and are suspecting mold: get tested!
Now let me finish that we LOVE our house now. We know this was a little bump in the road but are feeling so grateful to be here in nature!
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